Strategic Arts Initiative 2.0
InterAccess, Toronto, and V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam
Presented in conjunction with McLuhan 100 and McLuhan in Europe 2011
Thursday and Friday 12pm-6pm (live link to Rotterdam 3:00-6:00pm only)
Saturday 9am-7pm (live with Rotterdam all day)
Opening remarks and artist presentations: Thursday 3:30-4:00
Film "Them F*ckin' Robots" (presented through video link from Rotterdam):Friday 3:00-4:00
Panel with Arjen Mulder and Derrick de Kerckhove: Saturday 3:00-4:30
More information as well as details on the original exhibition and individual artist's work is available on the V2 web site.
SAI 2.0 is presented as a three-day event in which visitors are invited to interact with their counterparts in Rotterdam through works of telepresence art.
InterAccess and V2_Institute for the Unstable Media present Strategic Arts Initiative 2.0, a re-installation of the seminal 1986 telepresence exhibition Strategic Arts Initiative (SAI). This exhibition marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the initial exhibition and coincides with the centenary of the birth of Canadian philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan, whose writings informed and influenced much of the work in the original SAI exhibition. While telepresence has become ubiquitous in the 25 years since the original exhibition (as it predicted it would) many of these works display possibilities that still seem radical today. Instead of merely communicating visually across great distances, the works in the exhibition insist on even more intimate forms of telepresence such as communicating through touch, feats of strength, and actual physical presence across networks.
Strategic Arts Initiative was originally conceived as a sort of foil to the American Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars", created by President Ronald Reagan. The exhibition represented an opportunity for artists, rather than industry, to imagine the future of telepresence. This aligned with McLuhan's conviction that artists represented a DEW line or Distant Early Warning system that would tell a culture what was beginning to happen to it. The artists involved with SAI were brought together in large part because of a shared interest in the work of McLuhan and a desire to explore the artistic possibilities of communication media such as telephone, radio, television, video, and telematics. As the exhibition's program notes stated:
Communications technologies are putting us in touch with the whole planet, but most of us are not aware of how this situation can change our sensibility. We are all trapped in an invisible mesh of electronic talk. We still use communications to transport information. We have not yet understood that the new technologies are also transforming relationships. One of the roles of the artist in this context is to reveal these relationships.
Far from the slow, erratic, and problematic medium of communication that it was in the late-1980s, telepresence technology is now unquestionably part of our lives. The videophone, a thing of science fiction fantasy and a vision of the future 25 years ago, is now a part of our current reality with many people using Skype on a daily basis.